Managing the transition online for first year undergraduates in Higher Education

Sheridan, Frances, Murphy, Lisa and Thornbury, Emer (2021) Managing the transition online for first year undergraduates in Higher Education.


The difficulties facing second level students in the transition to Higher Education are well documented. Third level educators are constantly striving to find new ways to ease this transition and support second level students in adapting to college life.

National College of Ireland (NCI) has a long-standing tradition of supporting students with dedicated support services for Learning Support, Maths Support and Computing Support among others. Each year, NCI runs orientation for all new students to introduce them to the college campus, college systems, their new peers and faculty. In recent years, the School of Computing has built on this orientation with focussed induction events tailored specifically to the needs of Computing students.

In 2020, government guidance on the closure of college campuses meant that all new first year undergraduate students at NCI would be taking their first semester online. This move to a completely online experience brought about a host of new challenges with respect to an already difficult transition. Faculty identified three key areas in which new students would require support in order to manage this transition: Learning Environments, Academic Subject Support and Social Support.

These three areas then formed the basis for a series of induction measures which were put in place for all first-year full-time Computing students. These included a year-long induction programme of targeted timetabled online induction sessions as well as a series of regular timetabled academic subject support sessions with the Computing Support Service. These sessions were guided by regular student feedback with a focus on student group-work and regular signposting of contacts and services within the college which students could avail of.

This paper details the approaches implemented to reduce the impact that a completely online experience would have on the transition to higher education.

View Item